$500 million in new construction is planned for Eielson Air Force Base to support the upcoming deployment of F-35 Fighters, and local hire for a portion of that work is a top priority. Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation President and CEO Jim Dodson said area leaders are working to ensure federal officials understand what’s at stake.Listen now“If they set aside a job that our local labor force and contractors aren’t qualified for, like a hub zone for example, then our labor force and our contractors actually have to physically leave Fairbanks,” Dodson said. “They don’t just drive somewhere for the day. They’ve gotta move out of Fairbanks and go to work in Anchorage or even go to work out of state, and that’s not acceptable.”Dodson said they’re working with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Small Business Administration and Alaska’s Congressional delegation to make sure Fairbanks area contractors get some of the work leading up to the 2020 deployment of F-35s at Eielson, as well as jobs tied to nearly a billion dollars in projects, including a new radar, at Clear Air Station. Dodson says expertise is also an issue, maintaining that construction is different north of the Alaska Range.“You need to get somebody that understands that type of construction,” Dodson said. “So, you know, our point simply has been it’s an advantage to our contract, there’s this advantage to our labor force and it’s also an advantage to the building.”A group of Fairbanks are area leaders known as the Tiger Team, that formed to advocate for Eielson, were scheduled to meet with Senator Lisa Murkowski and an Alaska SBA official this afternoon to talk about the local hire issue.